I’ve been pretty busy and haven’t had time to post very often but this comment to a previous post gave me a chuckle so I wanted to provide a response.
You: “out out of all of these possibilities I don’t think it’s enough to just say that I don’t believe in any of the human defined theisms. I think it is much more honest to say that all of humanity definitely doesn’t know.”
Since when is it more honest to speak for all of humanity instead of just yourself? That sentence didn’t make sense to me.
I don’t speak for all of humanity but I definitely have an opinion of truth, our collective knowledge, and our ability to know the truth. If my viewpoint is confined to my own limits of knowledge then I’m just a fence-sitter that hasn’t yet heard the right truth from my fellow humans. I don’t think any of you have the answers to my questions about existence since I don’t think any of us possess the ability to understand. I may not speak for you but I do believe you share in my condition of ignorance. If I spoke for you I’d be compelled to have you believe as I do, and I honestly don’t care if any of you do.
You: “Even though I’m without theism (a-theist), that is why I use the Agnostic label.”
I use both (agnostic atheist). But for short I say “atheist” because in most cases agnosticism is a given (as in: you can’t be absolutely certain about anything).
Also, not bringing up the agnostic label might just help avoid the brain-in-a-vat discussion.
I can have reasonable certainty of many things starting with my own existence as well the existence of the wife and children I love. My certainty also includes religion and the supernatural. Whatever real truth is out there, I am certain we are too simplistic to know it. A completely natural universe that just came to be in a big bang is an interesting theory of our beginning, but I find it hard to believe that it’s the complete story. There may just be more than this that we just don’t know and can’t understand.
It may just be that I’m dreaming and I’m simply a brain-in-a-vat and none of this is truly real. LOL
Here’s a more logical view of Pascal’s Wager that I can actually agree with:
“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” – Marcus Aurelius
The other problem I always see with Pascal’s Wager is the assumption that there is only one right choice for deity belief and you would be able to make that right choice when you follow Pascal’s Wager. I’d add to the line of “if there are gods, but unjust” and say that we’re all screwed anyway in that case and you couldn’t really hope to know how to do right for such gods.
A post on Evangelical Realism concerning How God Really “Works” is a prime example for how people try to tie normal human activity to acts of a supernatural deity. It references a story about a professor who states “God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I’ll give you exactly 15 minutes.” Of course nothing happens until a Marine steps up and knocks him down. The Marine calmly replied, “God was too busy today protecting America ’s soldiers who are protecting your right to say stupid stuff and act like an a$$. So, He sent me.”
Evangelical Realism has an excellent rebuttal for the whole thing discussing something I’ve brought up many times. Acts of God are simply just acts of humanity attributed to the wrong person. Prayer is just hope given over to the supernatural and hope doesn’t result in any real actions unless we decide to act. The blog post ends with a great summary of this:
This is the secret. This is how God really “works” in the real world: somebody thinks they know what God ought to be doing, then they sit there stewing about it because God’s obviously not taking care of the matter, then they jump up and do it themselves, then they claim that God ought to be given credit for having gotten the job done. A classic case of sock-puppet deity. Rather pitiful, really, but so long as God persists in failing to show up in the real world it’s the best Christians have to offer.
Mr. Anonymous And Probably Fictitious Marine, I salute you. You may have acted violently, ignorantly, and unjustly, but you at least gave us a clear demonstration of how Christians perpetuate the delusion that God actually does things in the real world.